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Remembering dear colleague Tom Hanna

a man

Tom Hanna
(photo: Heather Ainsworth)

Tom Hanna ‘64, a talented communications expert focused on preventing child abuse and neglect, died on October 26, 2020 at his home in Englewood, Florida.

Hanna served an important role at the Family Life Development Center, now the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (BCTR), as executive staff assistant to FLDC founding director Professor John Doris for many years. In this role, Hanna helped forge the center’s ties to state government and professional groups focused on the prevention and treatment of child maltreatment and helped secure federal funding for the center to become a Federal Regional Resource Center for Child Abuse and Neglect. He also helped the center harness new technologies such as the internet to improve outreach services.

“Tom brought a keen analytical and forward-looking mind to our center,” said John Eckenrode, the founding director of the BCTR. “Tom helped us understand the potential of the internet to connect child abuse prevention professionals so that they could share information and learn from each other.”

Hanna was particularly dedicated to a project focused on preventing domestic and child abuse among U.S. military professionals and their families. And he had a talent for building relationships among colleagues, said Jane Powers, director of ACT for Youth in the BCTR.

“I began to really appreciate Tom and his gifts as the supreme networker and connector when I saw him in action at a child abuse conference,” she said. “He seemed to know everyone, and everyone knew him. He was so skilled at finding connections between people — letting you know why you should talk to so and so, what you had in common and why you should know each other.”

a group of men and women in a hallway

Former FLDC staff Frank Barry, John Eckenrode, Michael Nunno, Marney Thomas, Tom Hanna and Jane Powers

In addition to his work at Cornell, Tom was passionate about local government and served on Ithaca’s Common Council for four years. He was also an avid golfer and a founder of the non-profit group Friends of Newman, which helps to support Ithaca’s Newman Municipal Golf Course.

Hanna received in undergraduate degree in english from Cornell, where he served as associate editor of the literary magazine Epoch. He married his wife Katherine Sieverts ‘64 in Sage Chapel while they were both still undergraduates.

After the couple graduated from Cornell in 1964, they moved to Buffalo, N.Y., where Tom enrolled in a graduate program in english and creative writing at the University of Buffalo.  Then the family spent several years living in Chipiona, Spain.

In 1969, Hanna returned to Ithaca to work in media services for the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Human Ecology. Later, he became editor of the College of Human Ecology’s magazine Human Ecology Forum.

Hanna is survived by his wife, Kati Hanna; two children, Jennifer Kruegel-Hanna and her husband Gion-Men Kruegel of London, England, and Tim Hanna and his wife Melinda Slawson of Ithaca, N.Y.; and granddaughters Tahlia Hanna-Martinez, Serafina Kruegel-Hanna and Ruby Wilson.

Ithaca Journal obituary and guest book